LONDON UK - The restaurant chain founded and operated in the UK by Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has filed for bankruptscy protection.
Twenty-two of the 25 UK restaurants in the chain have been shut down, according to KPMG which has been appointed as administrator of the group. Only two restaurants at Gatwick Airport have survived the current round of closures.
Jamie's Italian chain, Jamie Oliver's Diners, and the steakhouse Barbecoa and Fifteen London are among the casualties.
It is believed the closures have resulted in about 1,000 people losing their jobs.
"Both Jamie's Italian restaurants and Jamie Oliver's Diner at Gatwick Airport will continue to trade in the short term while the joint administrators explore options for the site," KPMG said in a statement.
"The current trading environment for companies across the casual dining sector is as tough as I've ever seen," KPMG partner Will Wright said Tuesday, adding attempts to stabilise the business or find buyers or new investors had not been successful.
It is understood Oliver's international restaurants, including Jamie's Italian, Jamie's Pizzeria and Jamie's Deli outlets, which are essentially franchises, are unaffected.
"I am deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all of the staff and our suppliers who have put their hearts and souls into this business for over a decade," Oliver said in a statement released on Tuesday. The chef, come-TV-personalityy, come-author foreshadowed his chain's difficul;ties in an interview in 2018 in which he said rent hikes, and grotwth in costs of food and salaries, together with the uncertainty of Brexit was creating a 'perfect storm' for his UK business.
"I’m absolutely devastated that we have had no choice but to put our much-loved UK restaurants into administration, which means the fate of Jamie’s Italian UK, Fifteen London and Barbecoa is now in the hands of an administrator, who will be responsible for the operations of these restaurants and their future," Oliver said in an email to staff sent out on Tuesday.
"I appreciate how difficult this news is for everyone affected and I want to assure you that I have explored every possible avenue available and exhausted all options over the past months to try and save this business. I have personally invested everything I could to try and turn things around."
"Once it became clear that an administration was our only option, I personally made sure that I was able to pay everyone’s salary to date, so none of you are left out of pocket for the great work you’ve done," Oliver said.
"Everyone has tried so hard to support this wonderful business, but the well-publicised struggles of the casual dining sector and decline of the UK high street, along with soaring business rates amongst other things, have meant this storm was just too great for us to overcome."
"Although I can’t physically be with everyone around the country today, I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for putting your hearts and souls into our restaurants," said the celebrity chef.
"There is so much to be proud of. We launched Jamie’s Italian in 2008 with the intention of positively disrupting mid-market dining in the high street in the UK, with great value and much higher quality ingredients, best in class animal welfare standards and an amazing team who shared my passion for great food and service."
"And we did exactly that, with an incredible response from the public and powering through the British recession. We won pretty much every award going, including the Soil Association’s number 1 kid’s menu on the high street every time it’s been awarded," Oliver said.
"Our food standards have always set us apart from our competitors. All our ingredients have been the best possible quality and produced in a traceable and sustainable way. Our commitment to animal welfare, provenance and nutrition never wavered, even to the end. We stood up for what we all believe in: that customers deserve better, fairer, clearer more ethical delicious food with more nutritious options."
"Fifteen was my very first restaurant but like no other restaurant since, this was also my first charity and social initiative. It’s been an incredible journey positively impacting on hundreds of kids over the last 16 years, with the vast majority going on to become talented and successful chefs in their own right. It was an absolute honour and joy to be a part of this and I’m so pleased that the team at Fifteen Cornwall still delivers amazing food and apprentice mentoring to continue this legacy and invest in young people," Oliver said.
"Barbecoa was a passion project and a massive hit, we were one of the first to bring extraordinary meat, our own butchery and cooking over wood fire to London diners. We created a gorgeous space and delivered truly memorable dining experiences in one of the city’s most iconic settings."
"I’m so proud of all these achievements which makes it even more painful to say goodbye. We’ve had the very best and sadly also the worst of it," said Oliver.
"You guys are the best in the business and I know you will move on to great things in no time at all. I’m truly sorry and give you all my love, gratitude and most importantly wish you all the luck in the world."